Introduction Pit Bull Terrier Dog
The American Pit Bull Terrier, also known at times as the Pit Bull, the Pit Bull Terrier, the American Bull, the American Pit Bull, the American Pit Bull Dog, the Pit Dog, the Half-and-Half, the American Bull Terrier, the Yankee Terrier, the Yankee Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Terrier, descends from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England. This is a well-balanced dog whose tremendous strength is unusual for its moderate size. Pit Bulls, who are not recognized by the American Kennel Club, share a common history with the AKC-recognized American Staffordshire Terrier. Pit Bulls, like Am Staffs, are stocky, powerful yet agile, well-muscled and highly intelligent. Although descended from dogs bred for bull baiting and pit fighting, and unfortunately still used by unscrupulous owners in illegal dog fighting circles, Pit Bulls have many remarkable qualities, including their gameness, trainability, loyalty and affection.
The Staffordshire Terrier was accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book in 1936. The name of the breed was revised in 1972 to the American Staffordshire Terrier, to distinguish it from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, which is much lighter in weight. The American Pit Bull Terrier was the first breed registered with the United Kennel Club, in 1898. Pit Bulls and Am Staffs are virtually the same animal, with different club registrations. Most Pit Bulls are between 17 and 19 inches at the withers and weigh on average between 60 and 80 pounds. Their short, stiff, glossy coat can be of any color or color combination. Pit Bulls require minimal grooming; brushing with a firm-bristled brush and an occasional bath should suffice.
Pit Bull Terrier Dog Breed Quick Facts
Pit Bull Terrier – Appearance & Grooming
Pit Bull Terriers are the medium sized version of the three breeds that are loosely referred to as Pit Bulls. Often confused with American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Pit Bull Terrier stand from 18 to 24 inches and weighs anywhere form 30 to 60 pounds. They are muscular and solidly built and are very powerful for their medium size. The wedge shaped head is large, but not massive, and in proportion with the rest of the body. There are slight wrinkles present on the forehead. The single coat is short and lays close to the body. They may come in any color of the canine rainbow except merle and they may be solid colored or have patches of color. Their eyes may also be any color, except blue, as long as it compliments the coat coloring. The ears are either cropped or left natural and can be rose shaped or semi-prick. The short tail is tapered.
Size and Weight
Pits range in height from 18 to 24 inches at the shoulder and can weigh anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds. It is a common misconception that Pit Bull Terriers should weigh close to 100 pounds, in fact, dogs of that size would be inadmissible to the show ring. Females tend to be smaller than males, weighing 35 to 50 pounds and males weigh 40 to 60.
Coat and Color
Pit Bull Terriers wear a single coat that is glossy, lays close to the body and is slightly harsh in texture. All colors and patterns are permissible, with no preference given to any one shade. Merle, however, is not permitted and the eyes should never be blue.
Grooming a Pit Bull Terrier is a snap. They only need to be bathed as needed, and weekly brushing and the occasional wipe down with a damp cloth will keep the coat looking glossy and healthy and will keep flyaway hair to a minimum.The ears should be checked on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean them with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog’s ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.
Pit Bull Terrier – History and Health
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was developed in England from a cross between old-style English Bulldogs and assorted terriers. The exact terrier breeds used to create this cross are the subject of much debate, but current opinion suggests that some combination of the White English Terrier, the Black-and-Tan Terrier and/or the Fox Terrier contributed to the mix. The combination became known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which originally were used by butchers to manage bulls and by hunters to help hold wild boar and other game. Eventually, the breed was used for the blood-sports of bull- and bear-baiting. After these “sports” were outlawed in England in the mid-1800s, dog fighting took their place. Dogs were forced to fight one another to the death in hidden arenas called “pits.” The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was highly successful in the fighting ring because of its tenacity, courage, stamina, strength and intelligence. Equally important was its loyal, non-aggressive and responsive nature with people; fighting dogs were expected to be obedient, trustworthy and easily handled by their owners at all times.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers came to the United States in the mid-1800’s, and became known as the Pit Bull Terrier, the American Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and later the Yankee Terrier. The breed was the first to be recognized by the United Kennel Club, in 1898. The same breed – with a different name – was accepted for registration into the American Kennel Club in 1936 as the Staffordshire Terrier. The name of the breed was revised effective January 1, 1972, to the American Staffordshire Terrier. By this time, American breeders had developed a much larger and heavier animal than the original Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, and many wanted to distinguish their dog as a separate breed from the AKC’s newly-recognized Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Other breeders preferred to keep the original name of American Pit Bull Terrier, and the breed essentially split in two, with the Pit Bull being recognized by the United Kennel Club and the Am Staff being recognized by the AKC. Pit Bulls have been bred independently from the American Staffordshire Terrier for more than 50 years.
Today’s Pit Bulls, like their close Am Staff cousins, are docile and intelligent and make excellent guardians as well as wonderful family pets. They have a keen knack for quickly discriminating between people who mean well and those who do not. The current reputation of the “Pit Bull” in the United States reflects upon the Am Staff as well, since they share a common history and in this country are only known by separate names because they are accepted by separate purebred dog registries. Flamed by poorly-researched, inflammatory media reports, the Pit Bull’s (and thus the Am Staff’s) reputation as a vicious, unmanageable and dangerous breed is undeserved. Well-bred and well-raised Pit Bulls are bright, kind, highly trainable and exceptionally gentle with children, family and other animals. The occasional dog that harms people probably was poorly bred, poorly socialized and poorly trained; it also probably was chained, illegally fought or otherwise abused by an unscrupulous owner.
The average life span of the American Pit Bull Terrier ranges from 10 to 12 years. Health concerns associated with this breed include actinic keratosis (solar keratosis), allergies, bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus), cancer, cataractsM,congenital heart disease (particularly subaortic stenosis), cranial crutiate ligament rupture, cutaneous hemangioma, cutaneous histiocytoma, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand’s disease.
Pit Bull Terrier – Temperament & Personality
Pit Bull Terriers come with a huge stigma – they are famous for being viscous fighting dogs, and evening news programs often highlight stories of Pit Bull attacks. Shelters are overrun with Pit Bulls, entire cities have banned the breed, and saying the name “Pit Bull” can strike fear into the hearts of some people. But a well bred Pit Bull who lives in a loving, caring home is the opposite of the “killer” splashed around on television. Pit Bulls are loving, loyal, clown dogs who make excellent companions or those with active lifestyles. They love being with people and want to be included in all family activities whether it’s a ride in the car, a neighborhood stroll or a romp in the park. While it’s true that in the wrong hands, Pit Bulls can be viscous, in the right hands, Pit Bulls can be sweethearts, which many owners describe as babies in a dog’s body.
Pit Bulls need a lot of vigorous exercise and are happiest when they are active. Long walks, short runs, or playing long games of ball in the back yard will meet their daily activity requirements. If a Pit Bull Terrier is not getting enough exercise, they are sure to let you know. They are notoriously destructive, making easy work of flower beds or expensive furniture, and some develop the neurotic behavior of obsessively chasing their own tail. Apartments or condos may not be the best homes for this breed, as they are rowdy and rambunctious and have been lovingly referred to as the proverbial “bull in a China shop.”
Training should be started early and always done in calm-assertive manner, as they won’t respond to discipline or harsh tones. Training is best done in short sessions due to Pit Bull Terriers’ short attention span and they will quickly become uninterested, even if treats are used as a reward. Lots of patience is necessary when working with a Pit Bull Terrier, as training can be a long process.
Even after a Bull Terrier is fully trained, they may decide to test their boundaries as they get older and project dominance. These situations should be handled with calm assertion; like a teenager, they just want to see what they can get away with.
Families with children should socialize puppies early on to accept outside children as welcome guests. While Pit Bull Terriers will bond nicely with kids in their own family, they can sometimes be aggressive to to other children and should be taught early on that all kids are to be welcomed with open arms.
Separation Anxiety develops often in Pit Bulls. It is important that this breed get enough exercise throughout the day and have enough activities to keep them busy when left alone, or they will become destructive. Some Pit Bull Terriers need to be crated well into adulthood to keep them (and the house furniture) safe when left alone.
Animal aggression is very common in Pit Bulls. Their fighting roots are still present in many lines, and even if they are raised alongside cats or other dogs, there is no guarantee that they won’t go after them one day. Even the most easy going Pit Bulls will not back down from a challenge. They may not start fights, but they will finish them. It is very important that when you take your Pitt Bull to the dog park that you closely supervise his activity, and remove him from the park immediately if other dogs are targeting him. Remember, your Pit Bull is an ambassador for the breed. They should also be leashed at all times, and your yard should be fenced.
Isolating a Pitt Bull is never a good idea. Socialize your Pit Bull from an early age so that he is accepting of new people and new situations, otherwise he will become naturally wary, which can lead to problems in adulthood. They are generally happy, easy going animals, and as long as they come from a reputable breeder and have polite parents, you can feel confident that your Pit Bull will be an excellent ambassador for the breed.